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Seven Deadly Sins

Painting, 1932

Description of the artwork «Seven Deadly Sins»

The picture “The Seven Deadly Sins” by Otto Dix was written in 1933, immediately after he was deprived of his teaching position at the Dresden Academy of Art and of any state content. Hitler came to power - and a wave of purges and new appointments swept through all the museums and art schools. Directors and teachers are fired if there are Jews in their clan or, in their past, connections with socialist organizations. After the dismissal in the house of Dix conduct a search, rude and arrogant. Pictures no one spares. At the request of the artist's wife, Martha, to treat them a little more carefully the agents smiled: “The best thing that can happen with these pictures is destruction”.

The seven deadly sins, which in the Christian tradition are considered fundamental and entail all other sins, are a traditional plot for art. HaveJerome Bosch - mysterious picture on the treeyPeter Brueghel the Elder - series of engravingsdepicting the deadly sins, each separately. Numerous images of the Last Judgment in the paintings of artists of the northern Renaissance.

Dix's allegorical picture should have been easily read by contemporaries: the crooked old woman is Greed, the white dwarf on her back is Envy, the figure of a dancing skeleton is Laziness, a voluptuous woman with a naked breast - Lust, a horned monster - Anger, a terrible huge head with anus instead of mouth nose up and closed ears is Vanity, and the fat man with a pan on his head is Obzhorstvo.

It is not surprising that in the letters of Otto Dix, which began to be published only in 2010, there is practically no mention of his attitude to Hitler, the new government and the new order. Most likely, any dangerous mention was the reason for the addressee to destroy the letter. The only source of information is his painting. After the search and dismissal, Dix and his family left to live in the village, in the old castle, which belonged to Martha's ex-husband, Dix's wife. He borrows money from his art dealer to buy a stove and conduct electricity - and begins to write neutral landscapes, smiling girls and flowers, to earn some money. Difficult times are extremely simple marketing strategies: a small picture, no more than 25x45 cm, a thick frame. Landscapes and girls are gradually sold, it is not dangerous. There are several philanthropists who support and continue to order portraits and murals for their country villas. It barely succeeds to survive, it hardly turns out not to feel useless.

And at the same time, Dix writes "The Seven Deadly Sins", and"Flanders" and "The triumph of death". Paintings that do not give the obsessed realist Otto Dix finally surrender. The dancing skeleton in "The Seven Deadly Sins" (the figure of Leni) is depicted in such a position that the pattern on his clothes forms a swastika - and this, the artist said later, reproached his compatriots for their laziness and passivity, which led to the Nazis. But the main character of the picture is, of course, Envy. Riding on Greed, firmly taking and ruling it, this smallest, insignificant, but the most important of sins wears the mask of Hitler. In the first sketch, it is quite obvious - it is easy to recognize by the whiskers. But holding on to the picture, Dix did not dare to portray this detail, which gives too obvious a portrait likeness. The picture of a mustache was not until 1945. After the end of the Second World War, nothing could prevent the artist from making these two final strokes. Instead of all burned letters.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Expressionism, symbolism

Date of creation: 1932

Artwork in selections: 7 selections

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